Worcester MP Robin Walker has today welcomed the Health Secretary’s announcement of plans to recruit 21,000 new mental health workers in England to properly integrate mental and physical health services.
As part of the Government’s commitment to delivering a comprehensive package of measures to transform mental health support, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt launched the report, titled ‘Stepping Forward to 2020/21: Mental Health Workforce Plan for England.’ The plan has been developed by Health Education England (HEE), together with NHS partners, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other experts in the field of mental health services. It sets out measures to tackle the ‘historic imbalance’ in workforce capacity and fulfil ambitions to improve mental health services.
The Government committed £1.3 billion to transform mental health services, with a pledge to:
- treat an extra 1 million patients by 2020 to 2021
- provide services 7 days a week, 24 hours a day
- integrate mental and physical health services for the first time
The report shows how the health service will dramatically increase the number of trained nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, peer support workers and other mental health professionals to deliver on this commitment and tackle the ‘burning injustice’ of mental illness and inadequate treatment.
By 2020 to 2021 local areas will need to create 21,000 new posts in priority growth areas to deliver the improvements in services and support set out in the NHS’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.
The announcement follows Robin’s backing, at the start of the year, for the University of Worcester’s bid to open a new medical school in the city. The Department of Health has confirmed that all major specialisms will see an expansion in recruitment numbers, with the plan targeting areas where there are forecast to be particular shortfalls as demand on services increases. The increase in roles is forecast to include:
- 2,000 additional nurses, consultants and therapist posts created in child and adolescent mental health services
- 2,900 additional therapists and other allied health professionals supporting expanded access to adult talking therapies
- 4,800 additional posts for nurses and therapists working in crisis care settings, with the majority of these (4,600) being nursing positions
Perinatal mental health support, liaison and diversion teams and early intervention teams working with people at risk of psychosis should also see significant increases. Robin has previously spoken up in Parliament for better mental health support in Worcestershire and championed mental health liaison at Worcester’s A&E. As well as the opportunity for Worcester University, he hopes that the additional investment in mental health specialists will allow local commissioners to upgrade the liaison support at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
“We want people with mental health conditions to receive better treatment, and part of that means having the right NHS staff. We know we need to do much more to attract, retain and support the mental health workforce of the future. Today is the first step to address this historic imbalance in workforce planning.”
“As we embark on one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe it is crucial we have the right people in post – that’s why we’re supporting those already in the profession to stay and giving incentives to those considering a career in mental health.”
“These measures are ambitious but essential for delivering the high performing and well-resourced mental health services we all want to see.”
Robin Walker said:
“I am very pleased to hear this commitment to training and recruiting a record number of mental health professionals. I have long argued for both increased funding and targeted, specialist support for those suffering mental health problems, and this expansion in mental healthcare will go a long way towards addressing that.”
“For our University, who are in preliminary discussions with a range of partners regarding the opening of a medical school in the city, this represents a huge opportunity for the future.”
“The Government will need to work alongside our higher education institutions in training and recruiting people for these positions, and to be able to offer that high-quality training in Worcester would be an enormous boost to our NHS locally.”
“Earlier this year our local Health and Care Trust received a large share of additional funding to further improve their acclaimed digital treatment services for mental health. This announcement will build on that success by providing the highly-skilled frontline staff we need for the future.”
“Coming hot on the heels of the announcement of twenty-nine million pounds of funding from the government for our local hospitals I hope that this will be another opportunity to improve care in our local NHS.”
Notes to editors
To read HEE’s Stepping Forward to 2020/21: Mental Health Workforce Plan for England see:
For Robin’s recent statements on mental health provision, please see:
For Robin’s speech in December 2015 regarding mental health liaison in Worcester, please see: